Being a follower of Jesus requires personal holiness. This means that after we have trusted Christ and our sins have been blotted out by His blood, we begin a process of becoming more and more like Him. Scripture calls this “sanctification.” The command to live a life of holiness is found throughout God’s Word. Take the Apostle Peter, for example, writes, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15).
You see holiness is not just a churchy term; holiness should define our very being -“be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 15). If we are going to take God and His Word seriously, we must find out how we can apply these words to our own lives. Hopefully the parable Jerry Bridges uses in his book, “The Pursuit of Holiness,” will be as helpful in your understanding of this issue as it has been for me.
A Farmer plows his field, sows the seed, and fertilizes and cultivates—all the while knowing that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent on forces outside of himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God.
Yet the farmer knows that unless he diligently pursues his responsibilities to plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate, he can- not expect a harvest at the end of the season. In a sense he is in a partnership with God, and he will reap its benefits only when he has fulfilled his own responsibilities. Farming is a joint venture between God and the farmer. The farmer cannot do what God must do, and God will not do what the farmer should do.
We can say just as accurately that the pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking; He does not do that for us.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 12b-13).